What are the disadvantages of period pants?
You know we’re all about being honest and upfront with you here at Team Cheeky.
We talk a lot about how GREAT our reusable menstrual products are. But we know that YOU want to know the downsides.
If you're thinking of ditching tampons and pads, what are the problems or annoyances about switching to period pants? What can go wrong? Is it actually worth taking the risk to try them? What are the pros and cons of period underwear?
Never one to shy away from addressing these things head on, here are the disadvantages of period pants:
- Upfront cost of period knickers
- Dealing with bloody pants
- Period undies need washing
- Menstrual pants take a long time to dry
- Less eco friendly than a menstrual cup
- Tricky to change period panties during the day
- Possibility of leaks in period knickers
There’s no doubt that period knickers are more expensive than regular knickers as we explained in the post ‘why are period pants so expensive?’
As you’ll read in our blogpost ‘Top 10 Period Pants Brands 2023’ prices range from 3 pairs for £16 at Primark to between £25 and £30 per pair from Modibodi.
Considering that you can get a pack of disposable pads or tampons for around £3, switching to period pants will cost ££ upfront. Ideally you’d need around 5 pairs of period pants for your cycle, assuming that you wash every day / every other day. With Cheeky, 5 pairs of period pants would cost £50.
Obviously you’ll save more than that over the time period that you wear them, but we understand that the upfront cost can be enough to put you off.
- Consider a period pants subscription service which allows you to build up your stash of period undies monthly.
- Take advantage of a multibuy deal, but spread the payments with Klarna
Some people are definitely more squeamish than others. With a pair of period underwear, you’ll be more aware of how much you’re bleeding than with a tampon or menstrual cup. In period undies, you’ll feel that you’re bleeding just as you would with a pad or panty liner.
And you’ll see menstrual blood in your knickers although the moisture wicking layer wicks it away quite quickly.
If that bothers you, then period pants probably aren’t for you.
"I bought these period pants from cheeky wipes as it’s my first time trying them and they were the cheapest I could find.
I wanted to try an environmentally friendly alternative to tampons and my menstrual cup.
I used them the main day of my period and whilst blood being collected outside of my body took a little bit of getting used to the cheeky wipes did a great job.
They are super comfortable and I felt protected all day." Deborah via Trustpilot
Ideally with your period pants, you’d rinse them under the tap until clear or cold soak them until you have a wash going on. Then give them a squirt of stain remover and wash on cool.
Cold water (max 30c) is necessary for washing bloodstains. Anything warmer than that ‘sets’ the stain.
For some people this might be just too much hassle. Or they may not like seeing the blood come out of their pants when they rinse them. I find it vaguely satisfying!
True Story: As I was writing this, I asked my 12 year old daughter whether it bothered her rinsing her period knickers.
“I don’t.” She replied.
I had never noticed as they come out of the wash clean!
Period Pants work the way they do because they are made up of layers. Between 4 and 5 depending on whether they are regular or heavy absorbency.
One of those layers is a waterproof layer. All those layers and the waterproofing mean that menstrual undies take longer to dry than regular knickers. And they have to be air dried, not tumble dried, so that means they take around 24 to 48 hours to dry.
Long drying time = more pairs needed for your menstrual cycle = more cost.
Not a lot can be done to mitigate this one unfortunately! It is what it is!
"Black boxer shorts for either periods or bladder trouble: soft, silky fabric, very absorbent, extremely comfortable to wear, thoroughly recommended. The padding runs right round to the back waistband, so great for overnight wearing. The only downside is you need a good few pairs, as they have to be dried gently, no tumble drying, but there is a special offer on, 5 pairs for £50, which is a bargain!" Susan Via Trustpilot
If your main reason for considering switching to reusables is the environment, then a menstrual cup should be your first port of call as they are the most eco friendly reusable option.
Not everyone can use internal period protection. Not an option for me after 4 children. That’s why we developed our range of reusable period products back in 2015.
However reusable pads and pants are WAY more eco friendly than tampons or disposable pads, so if you make the switch you’ll still get a big green tick on the eco front.
Depending on how heavy your period is and which absorbency of period pants you’ve got, it’s recommended that you change your pants every 6 hours max.
Lots of people wear them longer and have no problems, but to avoid leaks, that’s the recommendation. It very much varies from person to person.
Obviously changing period pants at work or school is a pain. If like me, you’re normally wearing trousers or jeans, it means taking your shoes off, jeans off, old knickers off, new knickers on, jeans back on, shoes back on.
Bit of a faff. Personally, I don’t have time or inclination for that.
To be fair, the only day I would even consider doing that is day 2 of my period which is my heaviest. But on day 2, I will tend to wear a cotton reusable pad inside my period knickers. Then at lunchtime-ish, I just remove that pad, popper it closed and wear the fresh knickers for the rest of the day, changing at bedtime.
You might also feel uneasy about potentially carrying soiled knickers or a pad in your bag until you get home. We understand! That’s why we’ve got a range of double pocket wetbags which hold your clean knickers in one pocket, dirty in the other.
Period Pants are generally super absorbent as they are made up of multiple absorbent layers. However they do occasionally leak. There are 5 main causes of period pants leaking which can mostly be avoided:
- Brand new and need prewashing for optimum absorbency
- Poor fit
- Bum munching
- Not changed in line with flow
- Wrong absorbency used
Most leaks are when the customer has just purchased them. It takes 3 or 4 washes to build maximum absorbency on period pants so bear this in mind.
Being saggy = leaks.
Too tight into your crotch = leaks
If you’re ever unsure on sizing we recommend you check. Different styles come up larger or smaller feeling depending on stretch and fabric, so always check our period pants size comparison before purchase.
You know what we mean by bum munching…when your trousers sit at the wrong angle and work themselves into your crotch, dragging your knickers along for the ride. Knickers go up your crack and voila - you leak!
Like we said, the recommendation is to change every 4 to 6 hours. You *may* be able to get away with changing less regularly, but it depends on your flow.
This sometimes happens here and I know I should know better at 50 years of age. Perimenopausal flooding when I am not expecting it. Totally my bad, I’ve worn regular flow knickers and should have gone for heavy flow.
"Been using Cheeky period knickers for a while now and I really couldn't be without them. I do suffer with quite heavy periods and a leaky bladder, they are perfect for what I need.
I was getting so fed up with pads and the way they kept irritating me, and the cost! Only to then throw away!
But having these knickers now has changed things for the better." Justine, via Trustpilot
We hope you’ve enjoyed learning more about the disadvantages of period pants. Despite the disadvantages, both we and our customers still love them. For us, the benefits of being comfy and not having to worry about our periods really outweigh the disadvantages. As always, if you have any questions, please do contact us. The team just LOVE to chat pee, poo and periods and nothing is TMI!
You may also be interested in these articles about period pants for further reading:
About the Author: Helen Rankin founded Cheeky Wipes, the original reusable wipes kit back in 2008 after disposable wipes caused her eczema to flare up. 4 kids later, internal period protection was no longer an option for her and she went on to develop their range of 'Simple Reusables' to include period pants, reusable sanitary pads and reusable makeup removing pads.
Her customer services team pride themselves on providing honest, friendly advice and just LOVE to chat pee, poo and periods all day long, helping people make the switch to reusables! The Company was recognised for their hard work in developing environmentally friendly products with the Queens Award in Enterprise for Sustainable Development in 2021.